Thursday, March 14, 2013
Groups Say They Will Sue Over Eviction Cases Plan
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Four legal services groups will sue on behalf of potential defendants in eviction lawsuits, arguing that the Los Angeles Superior Court’s plan to move all of its landlord-tenant cases to five “hub” courthouses will deprive them of due process, the groups said yesterday in a press release.
“These changes will leave countless individuals and families without access to justice in cases where basic human needs are at stake,” Neal Dudovitz, executive director of Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, said in the release. For these families—many of whom depend on public transport—the prospect of traveling so far outside their own community to have their day in court is tantamount to having the door to justice slammed in their face.”
The groups plan to discuss the suit at a press conference in front of the downtown federal courthouse this morning. The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and Disability Rights Legal Center are also involved.
The court recently announced that as part of its budget-cutting “consolidation plan,” certain types of cases will be clustered at a small number of courthouses. For landlord-tenant matters, those locations will be Pasadena, Long Beach, Lancaster, downtown Los Angeles, and Santa Monica.
The plan requires that all new cases be filed at the appropriate hub courthouse—as determined by the ZIP Code for the property—effective Tuesday of next week. Attorneys and litigants with pending cases will be notified within the next eight weeks, the court said, where those cases will be heard.
The groups planning the lawsuit said the plan will have the effect of “disrupting family lives, increasing homelessness, and resulting in the loss of countless, irreplaceable units of affordable housing across Los Angeles County.”
The executive director of the Disability Rights Legal Center said the impact on disabled tenants will be particularly devastating.
“Just when we think the disability rights movement has made progress, the Los Angeles Superior Court system ignores people with disabilities and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and we can see we haven’t made much progress at all,” Paula Pearlman said in a statement. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the Coalition for Economic Survival, People Organized for Westside Renewal, Union de Vecinos and the Independent Living Center of Southern California.
LAFLA’s executive director, Silvia Argueta, said the plan “puts a staggering burden on people with disabilities and low-income persons whose homes are threatened.”
A Superior Court spokesperson was said to be unavailable for comment.
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